PUBLIC SECTOR: Social care watchdog in comms overhaul

The General Social Care Council is this week set to approve an overhaul of its in-house communications function.

Following a review by director of corporate communications Mark Oakes, the body is to hire around nine more staff.

Also in the planning stage is a raft of pitches for external PR support to handle projects and campaigns for the social work watchdog, which is chaired by Rodney Brooke.

Currently only Oakes and communications executive Lorna Shearman have full-time permanent posts. There are three temporary communications assistants.

The nine new posts include a public affairs manager, who will effectively be Oakes's deputy and also head all media, stakeholder and government relations.

A corporate communications manager is also likely to be sought to co-ordinate broader PR issues, web strategy and internal communications. The other posts will be for three further executives, three permanent communications assistants and an executive assistant.

Oakes said: 'We've got a huge task ahead and this is the structure that is best placed to handle that.

'We won't be looking for a retained agency but will be looking outside over the next 18 months for campaigns.'

Oakes added that a key role of the PR team is to explain to the UK's one million social and care workers the importance of the body's national register of social care workers.

To be on the register, workers must adhere to a strict code of practice, which health minister Jacqui Smith is set to approve by September.

A GSCC spokeswoman has admitted the body made mistakes in a consultation programme earlier this year on the code. A failure to attract social service users to consultation meetings led to a fresh programme of focus groups and home visits.

This PR boost is part of an organisation-wide review that is expected to lead to the creation of 61 new posts.

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